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Journal Article

Die altenglischen Pflanzennamen aus linguistischer und lexikographischer Sicht

Hans Sauer and Ulrike Krischke
Sudhoffs Archiv
Bd. 88, H. 2 (2004), pp. 175-209
Published by: Franz Steiner Verlag
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20777959
Page Count: 35
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Die altenglischen Pflanzennamen aus linguistischer und lexikographischer Sicht
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Abstract

Roughly 1350 Old English plant names have come down to us; this is a relatively large number considering that the attested Old English vocabulary comprises ca. 24 000 words. The plant names are not only interesting for botanists, historians of medicine and many others, but also for philologists and linguists; among other aspects they can investigate their etymology, their morphology (including word-formation) and their meaning and motivation. Practically all Old English texts where plant names occur have been edited (including glosses and glossaries), the names have been listed in the Old English dictionaries, and some specific studies have been devoted to them. Nevertheless no comprehensive systematic analysis of their linguistic structure has been made. Ulrike Krischke is preparing such an analysis. A proper dictionary of the Old English plant names is also a desideratum, especially since the Old English dictionaries available and in progress normally do not deal with morphological and semantic aspects, and many do not provide etymological information. A plant-name dictionary concentrating on this information is being prepared by Hans Sauer and Ulrike Krischke. In our article here, we sketch the state of the art (ch. 1), we deal with some problems of the analysis of Old English plant names (ch. 2), e.g. the delimitation of the word-field plant names, the identification of the plants, errors and problematic spellings in the manuscripts. In ch. 3 we sketch the etymological structure according to chronological layers (Indo-European, Germanic, West-Germanic, Old English) as well as according to the distinction between native words and loan-words; in the latter category, we also mention loan-formations based on Latin models. In ch. 4 we survey the morphological aspects (simplex vs. complex words); among the complex nouns, compounds are by far the largest group (and among those, the noun + noun compounds), but there are also a few suffix formations. We also briefly present some morphological peculiarities, e.g. formations with blocked (unique) morphemes, the question of homonyms, cases of obscuration and of popular etymology. In ch. 5 we outline semantic structures, and in ch. 6, we introduce the structure of the proposed dictionary of the Old English plant names, also providing several specimen entries.

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